Friday, 30 March 2012

bad luck and a good deed

Recently my car died and I was stranded on the side of the road, with my husband, my two year old and 5 canaries, at about ten to three in the afternoon 20km away from the school my elder children were attending.
Luckily it wasn't a hot day or things may have turned out differently for those canaries!
But despite the car sizzling and spewing molten liquid everywhere my biggest concern was to stop the kids getting on the school bus. Thank god for mobile phones!
I live in a semi rural area, a long way from family so I have to rely on the goodwill of friends. I found a friend willing to collect my children and mind them until I could come to get them. Along the way, between frantic phone calls another friend called to say that she was coming to get me, and the midget and the canaries (we left the husband on the side of the road...)
She totally didn't have to. It was a long way out of her way. Not to mention that she was on the way to her weekly swimming class. But like the good and selfless friend she is she literally dropped everything to help me out.
Sooooo. I wanted to do something special to say "thanks for saving us!"
My friend is a knitter and spinner and all round amazing creative person. She is also the wife of a farmer which means her me-time is pretty limited as she spends a lot of her day doing farm duties. She has been talking of late about wanting to find some time to spin. She is always envious of the "beautiful rovings" I buy since she is more used to raw fleece straight from the sheep.

The solution was quite simple really. I ordered some yummy hand dyed BFL/ Silk roving from Spun Out. Similar to the fluff I spun recently.

The Thylacine Oatmeal BFL and Silk 

And since I was paying postage, why not order something for me...

Sqoosh Fibrearts 100% superwash merino in colourway 'raisin'
Now my friend has an excuse to do some spinning. In fact we are planning a grown-ups only spin/knit day in the upcoming school holidays (for all you non-fibre-freaks that is like HEAVEN!!) So yay for that. I'm planning to attempt to spin and ply my wool into a fingering weight yarn to knit either socks or a shawlette, so we'll see.
I can't tell you how nice it feels to do something nice for someone. Especially something that was so unexpected. So go, do something nice. Do it now.
Go on...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

everyone loves a good yarn

From this:

To this:

 In two days... :-)

My little helper <3 Love her guts!!

Plying the yarn

Battling with my ancient Niddy Noddy. This one was obviously designed by a man! (or a non-spinner!)
 I have approx 130 metres of roughly DK- light worsted weight yarn. I was hoping for a bit more but for my first skein of yarn I'm pretty pleased.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Spinning up a storm

I first learned to spin around 10 years ago whilst I was studying textile art at Uni. My first experience was on an electric mini spinner and then I moved on to a traditional style single treadle wheel, you know, the fairy tale looking ones a la Sleeping Beauty.
Over the years I have dabbled occasionally; My grandparents sent me over an antique wheel around the same time that I was learning but despite all my best efforts at the time I couldn't make the damn thing work! I now know that I needed to tension the wheel, but back then I had no idea about the workings of a spinning wheel. As far as I was concerned you put your foot on the peddle and you treddle...
Towards the end of 2011 I was presented with an Ashford Traditional spinning wheel in excellent condition for a steal of only $50! You bet your ass I bought it! Much to the disdain of my husband who has been trying to convince me for years to get rid of the other one.
So over the last few months I have dabbled a little again, but recently for our wedding anniversary, said husband bought me a beautiful spalted beech drop spindle and some luscious BFL/ Silk roving.

I wasn't sure about the colours of this wool when I first saw it online, but when it arrived I was totally smitten.
The colours are divine; ranging from silver to fawn to chocolate to deep plum and mauve. Beautiful!

So my new spindle has inspired me to get my spin on again. And I wanted to get some good practice in before I attempted to spin the new roving. I've only ever spun Merino before which I've since learned is crap for a beginner due to its short staple length and tendency to snap when overspun. So I dug out some Corriedale I had in my stash for felting. It had been pre-washed and carded by me last year so it was good to go. I was AMAZED at how easy it was to spin!! Seriously, these fibres seem to go forever and you can spin it so fine!
I have a ball of Merino/ Silk I spun about a year ago. It's pretty dodgy to say the least. But lately I've been intrigued by Navajo plying, I mean, as far as I can tell it's kinda like taking a shortcut in plying and I'm all for shortcuts. It's in my lazy nature. So thanks to the wonders of YouTube I watched a few video tutorials and decided to have a crack at it. Obviously my first attempts are ordinary at best, but this is so freaking awesome! Ingenious!
Front, Merino. Rear, Corriedale. Both Navajo plied

So I went ahead and plied the Merino/ Silk, just for funsies. I ended up with approx 30 yards of super bulky weight yarn. I was initially planning to knit some fingerless mitts with this yarn, then last night I thought a neck warmer. I knit it up on 10mm needles and there isn't enough :-( So I'll have to ponder on another purpose for this.

After a little maintenance on the wheel (the Conrod joint snapped. Who even know it was called a Conrod joint?! By the way, an old leather belt cut into a 2 inch strip did the job just fine!) I decided I was ready to take on the BFL/ Silk.

Did I mention the colours are AMAZING!

The silk glides like butter through my fingers. The BFL is a little more hard work, but those fibres spin so beautifully. I don't know that I'd ever go back to spinning Merino again! Not for a while anyhow...

Thursday, 1 March 2012

adventures in sweet tomato heels - part 2

The finished Sweet Tomato Heel:

As you can see, it is beautifully smooth and neat. And what's more, this heel was Eeee-Zeee to knit. What genius! Her method of picking up the "Mother" stitch to close the gap is brilliant! If you are a sock knitter I highly recommend giving this one a go.
That said, I think I've decided to frog this sock :-(

(give me a moment while I grieve...)

Anyway. Despite the sheer loveliness of the STH I found that it just didn't fit right across the top of my ankle. The heel portion is great! It cups my heel ever so fondly and sits beautifully. But the top bit is. just. a. little. too. tight.
Add that to the fact that my gauge is just too large and a few other minor boo-boos and I think it's better to bite the bullet and just start again from scratch, a teensy bit wiser for the experience.

I did alot of pondering over this heel technique whilst I was knitting and I had a bit of an epiphany. One of those "what if I did this instead of that..." moments.
I'm in the process of putting those ideas into action so not too much detail just yet. But I think I may be onto a winner! So if you've been searching for the perfect heel with a combination of simplicity, aesthetic, and ease then stay tuned... :-)